The Epistemic Problem Does Not Refute Consequentialism

@article{Cowen2006TheEP,
  title={The Epistemic Problem Does Not Refute Consequentialism},
  author={Tyler Cowen},
  journal={Utilitas},
  year={2006},
  volume={18},
  pages={383 - 399}
}
  • T. Cowen
  • Published 24 November 2006
  • Philosophy
  • Utilitas
Should radical uncertainty about the distant future dissuade us from judging options by referring to their consequences? I argue no. Some short-run benefits are sufficiently high that we should pursue them, even if our long-run estimates possess a very high variance. I discuss the relationship between the epistemic argument and ‘fuzzy’ rankings and also ‘arguments from infinity’. Furthermore, extant versions of the epistemic argument require the assumption that we have no idea about the major… 

RULE CONSEQUENTIALISM MAKES SENSE AFTER ALL

  • T. Cowen
  • Philosophy
    Social Philosophy and Policy
  • 2011
Abstract It is commonly claimed that rule consequentialism (utilitarianism) collapses into act consequentialism, because sometimes there are benefits from breaking the rules. I suggest this argument

Infinite Ethics

Aggregative consequentialism and several other popular moral theories are threatened with paralysis: when coupled with some plausible assumptions, they seem to imply that it is always ethically

Clues for Consequentialists

In an influential paper, James Lenman argues that consequentialism can provide no basis for ethical guidance, because we are irredeemably ignorant of most of the consequences of our actions. If our

Simplifying Cluelessness

Given the radical uncertainty associated with the long-run consequences of our actions, consequentialists are sometimes “clueless”. Informally, this is the position of having no idea whatsoever what

The Infinitarian Challenge to Aggregative Ethics

Aggregative consequentialism and several other popular moral theories are threatened with paralysis: when coupled with some plausible assumptions, they seem to imply that it is always ethically

Maximal Cluelessness

I argue that many of the priority rankings that have been proposed by effective altruists seem to be in tension with apparently reasonable assumptions about the rational pursuit of our aims in the

Chance and the Dissipation of our Acts’ Effects

ABSTRACT If the future is highly sensitive to the past, then many of our acts have long-term consequences whose significance well exceeds that of their foreseeable short-term consequences. According

On Consequentialism and Fairness

This paper provides a consequentialist critique of common definitions of fairness within machine learning, as well as a machine learning perspective on consequentialism, which brings to the fore some of the tradeoffs involved.

Conditions for Social Discounting

Social discounting aims to compare the respective future consequences of differing courses of action for human well-being, and so to help decide on policies for matters as varied as climate change,

Varieties of responsibility: two problems of responsible innovation

This paper will argue that accountability, responsibility-as-virtue and the willingness to take responsibility are crucial for responsible innovation.

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 23 REFERENCES

The Rejection of Objective Consequentialism

Objective consequentialism is often criticized because it is impossible to know which of our actions will have the best consequences. Why exactly does this undermine objective consequentialism? I

The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism

Hayek gives the main arguments for the free-market case and presents his manifesto on the "errors of socialism." Hayek argues that socialism has, from its origins, been mistaken on factual, and even

The Austrian Search for Realistic Foundations

Self-designated Austrian economists have two different views of modern neoclassical economics. Some, such as F. A. Hayek, take issue with certain aspects of neoclassical economics without disputing

Act Utilitarianism and Decision Procedures

A standard objection to act utilitarian theories is that they are not helpful in deciding what it is morally permissible for us to do when we actually have to make a choice between alternatives. That

The Possibility of Parity*

Some comparisons are hard. Who is more creative, Mozart or Michelangelo? Mozart is better in some respects of creativity, Michelangelo in others; however, there is no obvious way in which one has the

The economics of time and ignorance

The Economics of Time and Ignorance is one of the seminal works in modern Austrian economics. Its treatment of historical time and of uncertainty helped set the agenda for the remarkable revival of

Incommensurability, incomparability, and practical reason

Incommensurability, Incomparability, and Practical Reasoning: An Introduction by Ruth Chang Incommensurability: What's the Problem by James Griffin Incommensurability: Four Proposals by David Wiggins

Discounting the Future

L'A. eclaire le debat entre economistes et philosophes concernant la promotion publique des biens futurs, en distinguant l'evaluation economique des biens offerts par une economie de marche, de la

What if? : the world's foremost military historians imagine what might have been

Key events of military history as they might have been if things had gone differently. Focusing on some of the most intriguing military history turning points of the last 3000 years, 20 historians

Comparing Harms: Headaches and Human Lives

Evaluation de l'argumentation en faveur de la vie des gens souffrant de maux de tetes, impliquant la mort d'une personne innocente, et de l'argumentation contraire n'autorisant aucune mort